Thursday, September 19, 2013

Recipe: Curtido (Salvadoran Cabbage Slaw)

My husband is originally from El Salvador, and we visit his family there on a regular basis. One of the things I love about the country is the food! I have to admit, I probably like traditional Salvadoran food more than he does. Since my son went gluten free, I appreciate it even more. Most of what they eat is naturally gluten free, and based on corn, beans, vegetables, fruits, and some meats.

One simple side dish that is served with almost everything is called Curtido de Repollo. It's pretty much their version of Sauerkraut or a vinegar based coleslaw, and it's delicious. I used to think it was time consuming to make, but it turns out that unlike Sauerkraut which has to sit for a long time before eating, Curtido can be made and eaten pretty much the same day, yet it still keeps well. It's used as a topping for pupusas (stuffed soft corn tortillas), meat, or really any dish that needs some crunch.

After we made all the cabbage rolls this past weekend we had some cabbage leftover and I figured I would try my hand at Curtido. I'm glad I did because it came out so delicious, I have been eating it straight from the jar with a spoon.

Don't tell anyone.

I had two cabbages left over so I made a gigantic batch and canned it, but 1 head of cabbage will provide you with a nice batch. Don't be alarmed at how much it looks like at the beginning, because the ingredients will be pressed down and will reduce in size considerably.

Makes about 6-8 cups

1 head of green cabbage, shredded or chopped in strips
1 large onion, sliced in strips
2 large carrots, cut in matchsticks (or you can cheat and buy a small bag of carrots already cut into matchsticks. I'm not telling which option I chose)
1 1/2 cups white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. I use white.
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. salt (or more to taste)
1 tsp. dried oregano or about the same amount chopped fresh
1 hot chilli pepper minced(optional, omit if you don't like spicy food)


1- In a large plastic, glass, or ceramic bowl, mix cabbage, onion, carrots, oregano and chilli pepper if using. Stir to combine with plastic or wooden spoon. Pour vinegar and water over mixture and mix to combine.

2- Sprinkle 1 tsp. salt on mixture and stir well. Sprinkle second tsp. salt if using, and repeat. Pour vinegar and water over mixture and toss to coat.

3- Press down on mixture with the back of a wooden spoon or a small cutting board until cabbage mixture is covered with liquid. If after a few minutes of pressing it's still not covered, add some more vinegar and water to top up.

4- Let mixture sit covered in the fridge for about 4-6 hours before serving. Store in glass jars in the refrigerator, or freeze in freezer bags. Curtido will last a long time if stored properly.

Serve with tacos, beside eggs, in salads, with grilled fish or ceviche, or anywhere you would use sauerkraut. I eat it plain, but that's probably just me.

A word about oregano. I tried making it without, because oregano is not my favourite herb, and the first thing my husband asked when he tasted it was if we had any oregano in the garden. If you're serving this to someone who will know the difference, don't leave it out!

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